Late December brings with it a changing of the guard. Christmas comes and goes, and we're forced to come to terms with yet another year passing in our lives. Thousands of sappy blog posts flood the internet with regards to accomplishments, regrets, they often center on ideas of improvement and hope. Taking the year in stride, we look back at our great experiences, fond friends and are thankful for the time we spent out of our comfort zones and in our element.
Somehow, I can't put my finger on a genuine sentiment from these types of things. This is not about to be one of those introspective nightmares, where 2015 reemerges as a ghost. That's not worth anything right?
Maybe I'm cynical, but seeing the new year as a new start just never really sat well with me. It's much more than that though, to chalk it up to a throw away thing...doesn't seem correct. I'm not convinced that each year, come December 31st, we are clean. Completely absolved of previous actions and consequences. There must be more at stake.
Every year around this time, an old, Greek mythological character comes into my head. This character was carved into existence by French philosopher Albert Camus.
His name is Sisyphus. His story, older than time itself, but continuously relatable.
He's a person, like you or me...who struggles daily to find success.
The story goes, that Sisyphus woke every morning at dawn in order to move this giant, towering boulder up a mountain. He worked tirelessly, day in and day out to move the boulder...yet he never really go anywhere...because the second he reached his goal...the rock would roll back down the mountain.
He would have to start over...every, single day. Working harder and harder toward some futile and absurd goal.
I used to think a lot about Sisyphus when I worked in retail during the holidays. Folding shirts, day in and day out only to have them messed up by greedy shop-goers and grubby little hands. The Sisyphean ideal of working at something over and over again only to have it messed up and dragged all to hell. Back down the mountain to start again.
I started this year as a foggy, drunk, hopped-up junkie individual. Slurring in and out of class with little to no concern for myself or others. I had a small group of friends who tried to help me. We fought and bickered, we had our differences and before I knew it, college was over. I had no excuse.
After a few weeks at home, I was on a plane to New York City and endured some of the hardest months of my life. Living hand to mouth, getting swallowed alive by a place I thought would be my home forever. I guess I just wasn't ready. The rock seemed to be flying down the mountain at a feverous pace, and I, standing 5'4'' was crushed by its mighty mass.
Somehow, I emerged out from under the boulder, clinging to life and the 200 dollars I had saved. I had to get on another plane. This time to Seoul, South Korea, a place that almost never crossed my mind. A city that, if not pointed out to me on a map, would seem like it was on Pluto. Without recourse, language or any context for life as I knew it, I was thrown into a panic. Forced to learn everything again like a child. Some of the hardest, most lonely and most rewarding times in my little life were to come.
For once, I gave myself a chance to make new friends and be who I truly was, without the excess or the games. I was just a human being, connecting with other human beings. And so, I began to push the rock up the mountain. Taking smaller and smaller steps each day, creating a tiny little path for myself, so that if, and only if, I fell under its weight again, I could find my way out.
Finally, I am settled back in the US. Not a different person, but a changed person. Someone who still carries the darkness inside them, but does not feel the need to cling to it to survive. The wreckage of the past is slowly lifting, not without extreme doubt and sadness, but with an increased optimism. I can only see the light of the top of the mountain if I squint...but that's much better than nothing.
2015 was a great big challenge that took me to three different states, four different time zones and two different countries. I learned a little bit of a new language, wrote some new songs and continued to let everyone here in on secrets I never thought possible to express. And I cannot be more thankful. I gained a greater appreciation for my fellow man, my family who without I couldn't have survived, and most importantly...I learned to appreciate myself. For all the bumps and bruises, I survived.
I see each year as this new Sisyphean struggle. It is not a clean slate. It's a continued struggle full of joy, weakness, hard work, envy, lust, ruin and romance. The years to come are filled with equal parts hope and devastation. We will walk on eggshells around our futures until we've exhausted all hope for one. We must buck the cycle.
We wake on January first with hangovers and missed opportunities at the front of our brain and suddenly we feel new again. The rock has slid back down the mountain, and we are at a constant state of hard work. Over and over again, without fail we find new ways to challenge ourselves.
Maybe this time, when we try and push the rock up the mountain this year...we'll be more healthy, happier, more human. We might find the love of our lives. We might make big mistakes. Maybe we'll vow to save our money before it rolls back down again, so we're more prepared. Maybe we want a new job, a new life.Maybe we want to correct our past mistakes, get clean. Maybe we want to cause mayhem.
The truth is, there is no such thing as a clean slate, a new you. We humans are living, walking bits of history. In a flash we'll be gone, but these sorts of moments, where we sit down and think about all that's changed, are the most important ones. Because for a moment, we're in control.
We look up, it's 11:59, another year ready to pass...and suddenly we see it.
That rock we've been pushing up the mountain for the past 364 days is ready to fall back and crush us. Just like Sisyphus we're at a standstill. But...we're ready.
Because we've done this all before, and we can do it again.
I want to extend a great big thank you to all of you guys who have been reading, commenting, messaging and sharing your stories here on Vingle. You guys are an inspiration, and have given me the strength to continue to explore all parts of myself in an effort to help all of us see the value of both the dark and the light.
I hope you all have a happy, healthy, prosperous and beautiful New Year. May 2016 be the year of the Vinglers!